Charles Scott (governor of Kentucky)

Charles Scott (governor of Kentucky)

Infobox Governor
name= Charles Scott

order= 4th
office= Governor of Kentucky
term_start= September 1, 1808
term_end= August 4, 1812
lieutenant=Gabriel Slaughter
predecessor= Christopher Greenup
successor= Isaac Shelby
birth_date= 1739
birth_place= Cumberland County, Virginia
death_date= death date|mf=yes|1813|10|22|mf=y
death_place=Clark County, Kentucky
spouse=Frances Sweeney
Judith Cary (Bell) Gist
relations=Father-in-law of George M. Bibb
profession= Soldier, Politician
occupation=Farmer, Miller
party= Democratic-Republican

Charles Scott (1739ndash October 22, 1813) was an American soldier and politician who served as Governor of Kentucky from 1808 to 1812. Orphaned at an early age, Scott participated in the French and Indian War, serving under Edward Braddock and George Washington. He again served under Washington during the Revolutionary War, weathering the winter at Valley Forge and serving as Washington's chief of intelligence during later campaigns.

Following the revolution, Scott moved to Kentucky where he participated in a number of skirmishes with the Indians, including the decisive Battle of Fallen Timbers. He parlayed his military success into political gain, serving as a presidential elector in 1793, 1801, and 1809, and serving as Kentucky's fourth governor from 1808 to 1812. His most significant achievement as governor was preparing the state militia to participate in the War of 1812, including the elevation of William Henry Harrison to command the militia. During his first year in office, Scott was injured in a fall and left on crutches for the remainder of his life; consequently, he relied heavily on Jesse Bledsoe, his secretary of state, to perform the routine duties of the office.

Scott retired to "Canewood," his home in Clark County, following his term as governor. He died there on October 22, 1813, and was buried in a family plot before being re-interred at Frankfort in 1854. Scott County, Kentucky, Scott County, Indiana, and Scottsville, Virginia were all named in honor of Governor Scott.

Personal life

Scott was born in Goochland County, Virginia, in the area that became Powhatan County. His father, Samuel Scott, and his grandfather, Captain John Scott, were both vestrymen of St. Peter's Parish.Powell, p. 20] Samuel Scott was also a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, and his death in 1755 left the younger Scott an orphan.Ward, p. 16] Charles Scott was educated in the rural schools of Virginia.

On February 25, 1762, Scott married Frances Sweeney of Cumberland County, Virginia; the couple settled in Woodford County, Kentucky and had eight children, one of whom was a twin believed to have died in infancy. With the help of slaves owned by his wife, Scott ran a mill on a large land plot near Muddy Creek and the James River.

Frances Scott died October 6, 1804, and on July 25, 1807, Charles married Judith Cary (Bell) Gist, widow of Nathaniel Gist—a cousin of General Mordecai Gist. They moved to her family's plantation in Bourbon and Clark counties.Harrison, p. 804] Later in life, he was dogged by rumors that he drank and used profanity excessively. [Ward, p 19]

Military career

Scott was a non-commissioned officer in the French and Indian War, serving in Braddock's Expedition in 1755.NGA Bio] In October 1755, he was assigned to George Washington's Virginia Regiment and won acclaim as a scout and woodsman. He was assigned to Colonel William Byrd's command in 1760. During Byrd's expeditions against the Cherokee, Scott rose from the rank of private to captain.

At the outset of the Revolutionary War, Scott raised a company of Virginia militia and commanded them in the December 9, 1775 Battle of Great Bridge. In 1776 he was commissioned a lieutenant colonel in the 2nd Virginia Regiment of the Continental Army, rising to the rank of colonel later in 1776 and brigadier general in 1777. He served under George Washington from 1776 to 1778, and was his chief of intelligence toward the end of this period. He participated in both the first and second battles of Trenton and weathered the winter of 1777–78 at Valley Forge.Ward, p. 17] His unit fought in the battles of Germantown, Brandywine, and Monmouth, but their major engagement was the February 1 Battle of Drake's Farm.

He was captured by the British at Fall of Charleston in 1780, and was held prisoner for two years. He was paroled in March 1781 and exchanged for Lord Rawdon in July 1782. For his service, he was brevetted to the rank of major general in 1783.

In 1785 Scott visited Kentucky, and he moved to Woodford County near Versailles in 1787. He dreamed of founding a settlement on his land called "Petersburg" and having it become the state capital. In 1790, President Washington appointed Scott to a military board in Kentucky to investigate the need for armed frontier troops to quell Indian attacks. He and James Wilkinson were given charge of the Kentucky militia, and Scott participated in the Indian wars to the north of Kentucky. Two of his sons were killed in these wars. Scott commanded the Kentucky forces in St. Clair's campaign in 1791, including the disastrous Battle of the Wabash. On August 20, 1794, he participated in the American victory at the Battle of Fallen Timbers.

Political career

Scott's first foray into the political arena came in 1789, when he served one term in the Virginia House of Delegates, representing Woodford County. In 1792, the Kentucky General Assembly created a new county from Woodford County and named it Scott County in honor of General Scott. He was also chosen as a presidential elector in 1793, 1801, and 1809.

In 1808, Scott was elected governor of Kentucky by a wide margin over John Allen and Green Clay. He was injured in a fall on the icy steps of the governor's mansion during his first year in office, leaving him on crutches for the rest of his life. His handicap forced him to rely heavily on Secretary of State Jesse Bledsoe throughout his term; Bledsoe often delivered the governor's messages to the legislature. In preparation for the impending War of 1812, Scott brevetted William Henry Harrison to the rank of major general in the state's militia, and raised an additional 1,400 recruits to serve under him.Ward, p. 18]

Later life and death

Following his term as governor, Scott retired from public life to "Canewood," his farm in Clark County, where he died October 22, 1813. He was originally buried in a private family cemetery, but was re-interred at Frankfort Cemetery in Frankfort in 1854. Besides Scott County in Kentucky, Scott County, Indiana and Scottsville, Virginia are named in honor of Governor Scott.


*cite book |last=Harrison |first=Lowell H. |authorlink=Lowell H. Harrison |chapter=Scott, Charles |editor=Kleber, John E. |others=Associate editors: Thomas D. Clark, Lowell H. Harrison, and James C. Klotter |title="The Kentucky Encyclopedia" |year=1992 |publisher=The University Press of Kentucky |location=Lexington, Kentucky |isbn=0813117720
*cite web |url= |title=Index to Politicians: Scott, C to D |publisher=The Political Graveyard |accessdate=2007-08-25
*cite web |url= |title=Kentucky Governor Charles Scott |publisher=National Governors Association |accessdate=2007-08-25
*cite book |last=Powell |first=Robert A. |title="Kentucky Governors" |publisher=Bluegrass Printing Company |location=Danville, Kentucky |year=1976 |id=OCLC|2690774
*cite book |last=Ward |first=Harry M. |chapter=Charles Scott |title="Kentucky's Governors" |editor=Lowell Hayes Harrison |publisher=The University Press of Kentucky |location=Lexington, Kentucky |year=2004 |isbn=0813123267


External links

* [ Charles Scott Bio]
* [ Find-A-Grave profile for Charles Scott]

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